Adventures of a Modern Mom

Adventures of a Modern Mom: Game-show experience yields lots of questions

2014-06-12T00:00:00Z 2014-07-03T12:34:25Z Adventures of a Modern Mom: Game-show experience yields lots of questionsKelley Helfand Special to the Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

In my last article, I wrote about my experience as a contestant on the “Wheel of Fortune” game show. I taped the show at the Sony Studios in Culver City, California, on Feb. 13, and it aired April 16.

Since then, I’ve gotten several questions related to my show, so I’ll take this opportunity to share some of them.

Q: Do you get to keep the money you earned on the show?

A: Yes. I came in second place, and won $8,600 in cash. All three contestants, not just the big winner, keep the cash and prizes they accumulate from the puzzles they solve throughout the show. Contestants who don’t solve any puzzles are given $1,000. Taxes will be taken out, so I’m expecting to pocket a little more than half of $8,600.

Q: You had bad luck spinning the wheel. Did you get to practice spinning it?

A: I did have bad luck. I landed on “bankrupt” twice and “lose a turn” once. All 18 of us contestants who were in the six episodes that day had two chances before the tapings to spin the 2,400-pound wheel. However, one of the producers stopped the wheel in the middle of every spin so we couldn’t gauge how far our spins would go.

Q: Are you disappointed that you didn’t win?

A: Not at all. I’m happy that I solved three of the eight puzzles. Two were “tossup” puzzles where there is no spinning. All three contestants have an equal chance to solve the puzzle, and letters are revealed one at a time until someone buzzes in. Those two were “Brains and Brawn” and “Potato Peeler.” The regular puzzle I solved was in the “before and after” category, and it was “Chicken Stock Market.” In many “Wheel” episodes, there are contestants who solve only one puzzle or no puzzles at all. I was thrilled that I wasn’t among them.

Q: Is it difficult to get on the show?

A: Yes. I learned that more than 10,000 people try out each year for “Wheel,” and fewer than 600 of them appear on the show as contestants.

Q: What was Vanna White like?

A: As I mentioned in my article, Vanna stopped by the waiting room briefly to say hello to us contestants before she went to hair and makeup. She was friendly and had a big smile. Other than that, we only saw Vanna at the letter board.

Q: What was Pat Sajak like?

A: Our interaction with him was limited as well. The first time we saw Pat was when he was introduced to the audience and walked over to take his place next to us at the wheel. He did try to make us feel comfortable and encourage us.

Kelley Helfand is a Foothills resident and mom to two sons. Email her at

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